“So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”
On April 15th a fire ravaged one of the towers of the iconic Notre-Dame Basilica in Paris. Unless you live in a state of disconnect, then I am sure you heard about it or at least saw images flit by on your newsfeed. Within 24 hours, staggering amounts of money had been raised to rebuild. It is astonishing that the Catholic Church, one of the richest entities in the world, needs handouts from other billionaires.
You may not have heard that in early April, over 130 hectares of virgin pine and oak forest were consumed by a week-long wildfire in the southern Chiapas, Mexico, biosphere reserve and natural park of El Triunfo, or that on the evening of April 15th a fire covered 200 hectares of mangrove forest in Los Petenes Biosphere Reserve, in Campeche, Mexico. Why are we paying attention to the wrong kind of news?
I am writing this editorial on Earth Day and the earth has never been such a mess. I was woken up this morning by a 4.8 earthquake, with Huatulco as its epicenter. There wasn’t any damage, but it was a loud boom that shook most people out of bed. How loud does the earth have to shout before we will listen? Unpredictable weather patterns, floods, fires, tornadoes, and earthquakes have all been on the rise. Yet when they happen, we express shock and fear rather than recognize the obvious cause and effect?
You probably think you do enough. Well, you don’t. None of us do. Our sense of ‘me’ is paying a heavy price. What if we gave up our cars and committed to public transportation? What if we turned off our air conditioners or committed to not get on a plane or a cruise ship for a year? What if we stopped buying processed food?
The Ocean is the real cathedral that needs our attention- not for the sentimentality of our past but to secure our future. This mass of water that surrounds us and covers 70% of the planet should be our Temple. Eighty percent of pollution to the marine environment occurs as a result of runoff from the land. This kind of pollution includes many sources, such as septic tanks, cars, trucks, boats, farms, ranches, and factories. Millions of motor vehicle engines drop small amounts of oil each day onto roads and parking lots. Much of this makes its way to the sea.
Then there is the noise pollution. Can you imagine the sound of commercial tankers- there are about 60000 active at any time. Their noise wreaks havoc on marine life. In addition to noise pollution, the oil and gas industry’s routine operations emit toxic by-products, release high levels of greenhouse gases, and lead to thousands of spills annually.
Make no mistake about why we do this. It is so we can sit in our cars, get on our planes, not cook and and watch more screens. We might think we are doing enough by banning straws and carrying cute cloth totes, but we are not even close.
We don’t need to rebuild things, we need to re-program ourselves to see the ripple of effect of each of our actions- each toilet flush, each bag of garbage, each quick trip to Costco. We need a new kind of prayer.
Thanks for reading,